Becoming integrated into a California drug treatment program that provides methadone offers you comfort on several levels. First, you are no longer shooting up with a drug or popping illicit pain pills that wear off after several hours so that you’re anxiously looking for more. Second, you’re no longer putting dirty needles into your arms, increasing your risk of overdose or contracting hepatitis or AIDS. Third, you are living on the right side of the law, no longer dealing with dealers, buying drugs laced with other drugs.
Entering a methadone treatment program will become one of the most welcome changes you’ve ever made. Once you are admitted into a California drug treatment program offering methadone, you will begin to feel comfortable. You will gradually develop confidence that you have a place in the program.
Then, the Routine Is Interrupted
What happens, then, when you suddenly need to go out of town? Or you know you won’t be able to make it to the California drug treatment program that you’ve made your home base? Your clinic cannot automatically approve take-home doses for you, because guidelines from SAMHSA require you to be in treatment for at least three months.
If you need to be away from home or you are unable to visit your regular clinic, and you are not eligible for take-home doses, you will need to guest dose. And although you may feel some apprehension at the process, it is carefully spelled out by the American Association for the Treatment for Opioid Dependence (AATOD). This process will guide you through your days away from your home clinic.
California Drug Treatment Program Guest-Dosing Rules
You won’t even be considered for guest dosing unless you meet certain criteria. You have to be in good standing in your home program. That means the doctor and the counselor will talk about whether you’re complying with the rules of the program. They will also want to be certain that your home environment is stable and that you don’t have current legal stressors. You must be stable mentally, so if you are subject to mood swings or if you have certain psychiatric diagnoses, you might not be approved for guest dosing.
Here is what your clinic must do for you, if you attend a California drug treatment program:
Your home clinic will notify a “receiving” clinic—the clinic that will receive you as a guest. You will have to sign a release so that your counselor can ask them to provide services to you. The release will also allow the counselor to send over your applicable treatment records—not the whole thing, but your doses, your standing, and any medical issues that you’re experiencing along with a list of your current medications. They will either submit it to the receiving clinic as a scanned document transmitted securely, or they will give the documents to you in a sealed envelope. There will also be an order by your doctor for the methadone you need.
The receiving clinic will clarify with you what the costs are and how they are handled with guests of the program. You will also be given instructions for where and how to report for your medication. It’s important to take your state-issued photo I.D. as well as your insurance card and social security number. Visiting a California drug treatment center as a guest is not the time to be slack and forget the things you are responsible to take.
Once your counselor has sent or provided the documents to the receiving clinic, but before you actually go there, it is your responsibility to ensure that they have received what they need and that they will be expecting you. The responsibility falls on your shoulders. If you need someone to help you with that, let your counselor know. Find out ahead of time the name of your contact person at the receiving clinic; you will feel better if you walk in with the name of the person who’s expecting to see you.
The clinic that receives you as a guest can turn you away without providing medication if you appear to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. You are also responsible to honor the payment arrangements that you agreed to beforehand. The receiving clinic will notify your home clinic when you receive your last medication dose so that the home clinic will have a complete record of your medication.
Emergency Guest Dosing
If an emergency arises outside of your control and you reported unexpectedly to a California drug treatment program, you might not receive your regular amount of medication if you cannot provide documentation from your home clinic. The receiving clinic in that case might treat you as a brand-new client presenting for treatment at their clinic. The receiving clinic may choose to provide medication to you only if your home clinic is closed for the weekend or a holiday.
One last word about your payment arrangements—the receiving clinic has its own set of rules and will not agree to the same arrangements as your home clinic. Payment in the form of cash, money order, or credit card will be expected. They don’t know you, and so you shouldn’t expect them to accept your personal check.
Methadone clinic staff at your California drug treatment program will recognize that you are less likely to relapse if you continue your regular medication without interruption. They will do their best to help you with arrangements, as long as you are in good standing with your clinic and you do your part to make the process a smooth one.